What I Ate Today – Mostly Vegan

As I’ve talked about in a few posts now, I decided to start eating vegan about 2 months ago. It honestly hasn’t been as difficult as I originally thought. Not to say I haven’t had dreams about devouring plates of chicken…but overall I’ve been able to come up with meals that have been satisfying and tasty. I have a lot of reasons why I decided to start eating this way and am happy to share with anyone who is interested. 🙂 But if you want to learn more about veganism and the benefits of eating this way, there are some good documentaries on Netflix that I liked: What the Health, Forks Over Knives and Vegucated.

Below is a day of eating mostly vegan. I do still eat eggs occasionally, usually about once a week or if they are in something I had already made in the past (like the muffin I ate that was stored in our freezer).

Breakfast: My fav breakfast right now is chia pudding. I made this recipe and it made about 2-3 servings so lasted a couple of days. I topped it with pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, blueberries, bananas and a big scoop of peanut butter. So yummy and super filling. I also really like this recipe too with almond butter instead of peanut butter (even without the blueberry compote).

Snack: My only non-vegan food today. I had a grain-free blueberry muffin that I had made before and put in the freezer.

Lunch: My favorite meals right now are grain bowls with veggies/protein. This one was a bunch of leftovers that I had from earlier in the week: quinoa, roasted chickpeas, bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, coconut bacon (it does taste more like coconut than bacon unfortunately) and a mix of nutritional yeast/ground walnuts. I topped it with some hummus. Pretty tasty! I also had my fav kombucha from Buddha’s Brew (local in Austin).

Snack: I forgot to take a picture until I had already eaten this one. I had a whole mango (my fav fruit right now!) and some of these crackers with peanut butter. My go-to afternoon snack.

Dinner: This meal isn’t the most photogenic but it was pretty tasty. Joe had grilled up some eggplant and zucchini then I layered it in a pan and topped with jarred marinara sauce and vegan mozzarella cheese with brown rice pasta on the side. Not going to lie, vegan cheese isn’t my favorite. The texture is fine, but I’m not fond of the flavor. Joe and Enzo both don’t mind it but I think I’d rather just have no cheese. I also had a salad that I forgot to take a picture of with spring mix, avocado, olives and more coconut bacon.

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Miss Emilia – 5 Month Update

Wow…5 months already! Even though I know how quickly time flies, it’s still hard to see that in the moments. These monthly posts help me to remember and try and take everything in each day with my sweet kiddos. Especially hard to remember after an especially sleepless night!

Sleep – Man the 4th month sleep regression has been a bit rough! Some parts of her sleep are definitely better, some are worse. She has been falling asleep on her own at bedtime very easily with little to no crying which has been amazing. And most naps is the same however we’ll still get a really rough nap here or there where she’s really upset. We’ve been transitioning her off the swaddle. She’s swaddled with arms out at night now and just one arm out at naps. She started getting close to rolling in the crib so it was time. We’ve also been trying naps in the crib and not using the swing in the morning anymore. She has gone back to sleep a few times in the early morning in the crib on her own which has been great! Her biggest regression still though is we’ve lost her longer stretches of sleep at night. Her first stretch of sleep used to be anywhere from 5-7 hours but over the past few weeks it’s been 3-4.5 which has been hard. Sometimes her second stretch is 4-5 hours which lets me get a little bit more sleep but this doesn’t always happen. She’s been waking up happy in the middle of the night trying to roll around so hopefully once she’s more efficient at rolling her sleep will lengthen a bit. I can dream right?

Breastfeeding – Going well. Only issue is distracted eating still, especially when Enzo is around. He wants to chat with her when she gets up so I have to try and convince him to do something else while I feed her or she just wants to play with him.

Milestones – She just rolled from her back to tummy yesterday. She’s been practicing for about a week or so and getting stuck on her side. She especially likes practicing in the middle of the night and early morning! She’s not super efficient at it yet so she’s not rolling all over the place, but it’s only a matter of time. Enzo didn’t roll like this until 6.5 months so I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon!

Mental Health – This has been a constant prayer for me and I credit my decreased anxiety to God. Even though Emilia’s sleep hasn’t been great, I’ve felt much less anxiety over the past few weeks and have noticed I’ve been able to roll with whatever is happening so much better. If she took a short nap or skipped a nap I would get super upset, but I’ve been able to not get stressed and remember that this is a short time in her/our lives. Sleep will get better, than might get bad again and then we’ll have a toddler like Enzo who sleeps through the night with no issues. Trying to hold on to all of that.

Exercise – Still doing my at-home workouts as often as I can squeeze them in. It’s especially amazing when both kiddos are napping at the same time. If so, I almost always try to get a short workout in unless I’m feeling extra tired. When the weather cools off (October?) I would like to try running again. I was running quite a bit before getting pregnant with Emilia and did my first 5K right before as well. It’s not easy for me but that makes me want to work a bit harder at it. Hoping I can get back into it soon.

Food – Emilia hasn’t started any solids yet and we’ll hold off until she’s over 6 months and can sit up by herself. We’re planning on doing baby led weaning again (what we did with Enzo) which means we’ll skip the pureed food and let her feed soft foods to herself. Looking forward to that! I’m also still eating mostly vegan (some eggs now and then) and it’s been going really well. I saw a nutritionist the other week and that was really helpful in making sure I’m feeding my family the right nutrients. Joe is still eating some meat, eggs and cheese and Enzo still has cheese and eggs occasionally as well. Planning a “What I Ate Today” post soon!

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Miss Emilia – 4 Month Update

Miss Emilia is not a newborn anymore! Crazy to think that she’s turning into a baby and even looking back at her newborn photos, she looks so different already. She’s getting more fun every day and interacting with us and things around her so much. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows and changes each month.

Sleep – Well things are good some days and not so good others, which I guess is still expected at this age. We were working on getting her to fall asleep on her own using the swing which worked for a while and then started not working without her crying a ton. She’s been skipping naps during the day and taking a really long time to fall asleep for the night. Her longest stretch of sleep also regressed at night but she’s at least been going back to sleep after her first feeding. The second feeding is iffy but sometimes she’ll go back down if I put her in the swing until after 6 a.m. Those are good mornings! I know she has so much going on right now that can affect her sleep so we’re just trying to take it one day at a time.

Breastfeeding – Still going strong in this area. She eats about 7 times a day and luckily will take a bottle as needed when I’m gone. I’m thankful that feedings are getting easier and shorter as she gets bigger. The only issue we have sometimes is she’ll get too distracted to eat so I usually feed her in her room which helps. If I try to feed her while watching TV or looking at my phone she wants to see what I’m doing. And sometimes she just wants to chat and smile at me instead of eating. 🙂

Milestones – She rolled from her tummy to her back the other day but doesn’t do it all the time. She is getting much better at tummy time and not screaming during it anymore. She’s also getting better at grabbing toys though she can’t always hang onto them for very long. Still loves smiling at people. She’s also been really interested in looking at the food we’re eating and reading books.

Mental Health – This has greatly improved over the last month. I’ve still had a few days here and there where her sleep (or lack of) greatly affects my mental health and gives me a ton of anxiety. This is an area that I constantly have to pray about and give to God over and over. It’s so hard for me to let it go but it’s a work in progress.

Exercise – This has greatly improved for me over the last month. I’ve been able to start doing harder workouts and have been a bit more consistent. Enzo has actually be gone for over a week (went on a trip with family) and I’ve had a ton more free time at home when Emilia is sleeping so I’m trying to exercise as much as I can while he’s gone. My favorite YouTube channels I’ve been using for workouts are POPSUGAR Fitness and Christine Salus.

Food – Over the past few weeks I’ve been transitioning to a vegan (whole foods plant-based diet) and it’s been going pretty well. I’ve considered being vegetarian or vegan for a while. I did eat Paleo (mostly meat and veggies w/no grains or legumes) for a couple of years because of a lot of digestive issues I had and felt pretty good. When trying to get pregnant with Enzo I was able to start incorporating some gluten free grains and beans again. I’ve been eating a mostly natural, gluten-free diet for a while now and recently watched the documentary What the Health. It had a lot of good information and points that I knew about regarding veganism but mostly chose to ignore. We also were spending a lot on groceries and I knew if I cut meat out it would help our budget a lot. I’ve already been avoiding dairy because I’m confident it hurts Emilia’s tummy (I learned that soy also bugs her since I increased it).  I want to try and eat this way for at least a few months to see if I feel any improvement in my digestion and energy specifically. Joe did a 2 week vegetarian challenge and stuck with it but he wants to continue eating meat a few times a week which I’m fine with. I think we’re going to try and buy higher quality meat less often (locally from the farmer’s market) instead of buying lower quality, factory raised meat all the time. Enzo still has been eating dairy and eggs but he’s never been a big meat eater (he’ll choose beans over meat every time) so I don’t think he’ll miss it much! Luckily, there are a ton of protein options for vegetarians/vegans and I’ve been making a lot of new recipes over the past few weeks which has been fun.

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Miss Emilia – 3 Month Update

The last three months have been the most challenging, yet most rewarding three months of my life as a mom. Transitioning from one to two kids has been rough. There have been some really amazing, blessed days and some really hard, dark days. Of course, I am so grateful for Emilia, my sweet rainbow baby, but newborn babies are rough on me and Joe. We learned that with Enzo and when we fostered the newborn baby back in the fall. I knew it was going to be tough having a newborn in the house again but I also knew we would get through it.

Sleep – The first month or so things were smooth. Emilia slept well, was calm, didn’t cry much and just seemed to fit into the family easily. But something shifted around a month to two months and things got really hard. She’s been dealing with some major digestive issues with uncomfortable gas and silent reflux that makes it hard for her to sleep well and it seemed to be bad around 3-5 a.m. every day. We went through a really rough period where we were up multiple times every night, she would be awake for 1-2 hours at a time, not go down easily after her feedings and especially any time after 3 a.m. we’d have a really hard time getting her to stay asleep. Joe and I were able to tag team as much as possible but it was still rough not getting more than one hour of straight sleep some nights.

Since getting back from our trip to Houston, Emilia has actually slept amazingly well on our trip and had her longest stretches of sleep and was going back down easily in the middle of the night. I know things with babies can change easily, but I’m hoping some of those really rough nights of being up every 1-2 hours is behind us. If not, I pray for strength to get through and for reminders that this all will pass.

Breastfeeding – This has been much smoother this time around. The first couple of weeks were rough as my body adjusted to nursing again, but since then we’ve been smooth sailing. She has struggled with getting too much milk too fast but now that she’s getting bigger she’s handling it all much better. Thankful to not have the same struggles as I did with Enzo in this area!

Milestones – Miss Emilia is in love with smiling and talking to people. She does pretty good at tummy time but no indication of rolling at this point. She’s not quite grabbing toys yet but I can tell she’s getting much more interested.

Mental Health – Once the sleep deprivation started getting worse, my mental health also starting deteriorating. We’ve had so much support this time around and I’ve been really good about asking for help and that has been a huge blessing. I don’t think I’ve suffered with postpartum depression the same way I did with Enzo, but I’ve honestly had some days/weeks of depression, mourning the loss of my old life with just Enzo, and anxiety over anything sleep-related. Sleep is my medicine and when I wasn’t getting it consistently, I truly felt like I was losing my mind.

Just over the last week or so, things have started to turn a corner. About two weeks ago, I hit my lowest point and the depression took over my whole body. I felt an ache in my gut and couldn’t stop crying for two days. I honestly felt like someone had died. I hadn’t felt it that bad since she was born, so I reached out to my midwife to get some ideas on any supplements or other things I could do as waiting it out wasn’t an option anymore. I started taking a B vitamin supplement and had Joe take her for a couple of night feedings to try and get me a little longer stretch of sleep. She also recommended a fish oil supplement but it hurt my stomach so I decided to not take that for now. I’m also maintaining appointments with my therapist.

We just had our first family trip to Houston and leading up to the trip, I had a lot of anxiety about what it was going to look like and thought it was going to be really stressful. There were moments of course that were hard, but overall our trip was a huge blessing. My sister-in-law also took Enzo the week before that which was amazing timing. I was able to relax more with just Emilia and I feel that it truly helped my mental health start to get more stable.

Exercise – It’s been really difficult to get into any kind of exercise routine. The only real chance I have is if Emilia and Enzo are sleeping at the same time, and that doesn’t always happen. When I’m exhausted it’s also hard to convince myself to exercise. Right now my main form of working out is bouncing on the yoga ball numerous times a day while putting Emilia to sleep! Hopefully in the next month or so I can start getting more workouts in each week.

The second time around, being able to see that one day Emilia will be a toddler like Enzo, and the sleep issues will be behind us, is really helpful. When Enzo was a baby, not knowing what the next stage would look like, I felt like it would never end and I’d never sleep again. But I know that’s not true and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Toddlers have their own issues, but it doesn’t cause me as much stress or anxiety as the lack of sleep does.

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Remembering Our Loss

April 6 marked one year since we found out we were losing our pregnancy at 11 weeks. That was the first and last time I saw that baby on the ultrasound and will never forget that moment. The raw heartache I felt when I realized that my dreams and hopes for that pregnancy and baby were now gone. Even now that I can hold Emilia and see God’s glory through that loss, I still ache for that baby and wonder “what if”. What would our life be like if that baby was born instead?

But I’ve seen how God has worked in our lives over the past year and know that the loss was part of His greater plan. If we hadn’t of lost that pregnancy, we wouldn’t have pursued our foster license and would not have fostered the newborn baby last fall. And of course, I would not have gotten pregnant again and Emilia would not be here. I think the experience has grown both mine and Joe’s faith and trust in God.

It was difficult being pregnant, especially in the beginning, right after that loss. It was only three months in between and we were not quite ready yet. But God doesn’t always wait until we are fully ready to put His plans into action. I struggled for some time worrying about what might happen with the pregnancy and preparing myself for the worst to protect my heart for the loss again. Even as my pregnancy progressed, I knew something could still happen. I could lose her later in the pregnancy, she could be stillborn, she could have serious medical issues…all of these things haunted me and I knew that’s not how God wanted me to live.

Through a lot of prayer and pure surrender to Him those thoughts and worries slowly disappeared. I felt such a calm peace knowing that no matter what, even if one of those things happened, God would take care of me. And knowing that Jesus has been through everything that I have and knows exactly how I feel saved me from those dark moments.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started getting anxious for the birth and for what the postpartum period would look like because of the hard time I had when Enzo was born. I didn’t want to have a difficult birth and definitely didn’t want to go through postpartum depression again especially now having Enzo to take care of. I can honestly say that God has thoroughly protected our family so far. Not that things have been perfect, I’ve had my anxious, frustrated, emotional moments, but to a normal degree. He has brought so many people into our lives that have been extremely helpful, cooking, cleaning, watching the kids, doing things that are truly supporting my mental health. It has been a true blessing and I don’t know how I’m going to repay everyone for all that they’ve done for our family so far.

We’re still in the thick of newborn life as Emilia turns 6 weeks old today but I can say that we’re making it. Every day has its challenges but I am so blessed that God is allowing me to be a mom to Enzo and Emilia and I hope that I can show them who God is as they grow.

Looking back, that loss still hurts and I will always wonder about that baby and who they might have been, but I know that one day I will get to meet him or her and find out. I hope that as I look back each year, I can see God’s grace and plan unfolding even more.

To read our about our loss story, click here.

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What I Ate Today: Breastfeeding

The initial weeks of breastfeeding is the hungriest I’ve ever been in my life. I remember feeling the same way with Enzo and this time is no different. I always thought being pregnant would make me hungry, but nursing a tiny baby round the clock while recovering from birth makes me one hungry mama! Below is what I ate in a day. I’m trying to get as many healthy calories as I can and incorporate lots of healthy fats. I also drink water constantly throughout the day to stay hydrated. With Enzo, I think after the first few months my hunger calmed down a bit but I was always still hungrier than normal until I stopped breastfeeding entirely.


Breakfast

Smoothie (frozen banana, small orange, spinach, chia seeds, 2% milk Greek yogurt, coconut water and honey), one piece of gluten free toast with almond butter and a hard-boiled egg


Lunch
Bratwurst, roasted green beans, potatoes and sauerkraut. No that’s not a beer it’s pineapple kombucha. 🙂


Snack
I had two of these Lara Bites. So yummy!


Snack
Me and Enzo split a pear and I dipped mine in some sunflower butter. We also made these lactation energy bites (I substituted flax seed for shredded coconut and doubled the recipe) so we ate some of the batter too.


Dinner
A friend brought us a crockpot meal of maple chicken, sweet potatoes and carrots and I threw together some quick salads.


Bedtime snack
Even if I’m not super hungry before bed, I get in a snack so I’m not starving in the middle of the night. I’ve been having Greek yogurt with blueberries and homemade granola (thanks to another friend!) every day.


Middle of the night
I’ve been addicted to these Kashi nutbutter bars which are AMAZING. I eat one during one of Emilia’s night feedings. I also sometimes eat a small orange if I’m still hungry during the next feeding. I keep these by the bed so I don’t have to go downstairs in the middle of the night.

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Postpartum Survival Tips

The nice thing about a second baby is you have a general idea of what to expect during the postpartum period. Though of course things won’t be exactly the same as before, at least you have an idea of certain things you’ll have to endure. The first time around both Joe and I had no clue and no one really talked to me much about what recovery from a birth looked like. Below are my tips and things I planned in advance to help us prepare for Emilia’s arrival. Hopefully it’ll be beneficial to some new mamas out there. 🙂

  1. Meal Prep – I talked about this previously but Joe and I prepped quite a few meals while I was pregnant. I also stocked up on some snacks during my last grocery trip because when breastfeeding initially I was ravenous. Literally I can eat pretty much constantly. I wanted to make sure I had some healthy options so I wasn’t tempted by junk food and didn’t have to make Joe run out to the store frequently.
  2. Instacart or Other Grocery Delivery – Though it is more pricey, grocery delivery can be a life saver during the early weeks/months. The last thing I want to do is go grocery shopping right now and I’d rather have Joe at home helping here as opposed to running lots of errands. If you can, have a friend pick up the groceries for you if delivery isn’t an option. Knowing that we might be spending more money on convenience is helpful so it’s not such a shock.
  3. Postpartum Doula and/or Friends to Help Out – With Enzo we didn’t enlist too many people to help us out during the postpartum period. We did have family visit which was great while it lasted, but we could definitely have used the help of a postpartum doula and/or more friends stepping in. Especially with basic tasks such as dishes, laundry and light cleaning. We’ve hired an overnight doula this time to help periodically and she came for the first time last night. Basically she took baby all night and brought her to me when she needed to be fed. I got some decent chunks of sleep and Joe was able to sleep all night uninterrupted. We will also have one come over during the day time periodically to help with household tasks and run errands when we need it. This can also be pricey but since sleep is so crucial to my mental health, we felt it was an investment worthy of taking. We’ve also been more open/honest with our friends up front and pre-asking for help. It’s hard for me to ask for help and I think society makes me (us) feel that we should be able to do it all on our own. But this is not how it was meant to be. We need to swallow our pride a bit and reach out when we need it.
  4. First Postpartum Poo – So this isn’t the most lovely topic to discuss but it’s something I had no idea about with Enzo. The first postpartum poo can be pretty awful if you’re not prepared for it. I won’t go into details but with Enzo it was not my most pleasant moment. This time around I opted to not take stool softeners (as I don’t think they helped the first time) and instead focused on eating really well the last few weeks of pregnancy (lots of fruits/veggies, avoiding lots of junk and foods that normally can stop you up). And have been continuing to eat this way now that I’m postpartum. I also have been snacking on dried prunes throughout the day and drinking lots of water. This time it was honestly a piece of cake. Here’s a humorous article about this topic that might be useful. Current mamas should be able to relate!
  5. Rest – With Enzo I don’t think I prioritized rest as much as I should have. This time around, Joe and I discussed the need for me to truly rest for at least the first week meaning he will need to take on the majority of the housework and caring for Enzo (once he’s back in our care) and letting me mostly handle Emilia. It is hard for me to constantly ask for help and for Joe to get me this and that, but I know it will be beneficial to my physical and mental health. We’ve been lounging around, watching movies, reading and trying to nap when we can especially with Enzo staying with family. There will be plenty of time to be busy again.
  6. Placenta – I did not do anything with my placenta with Enzo. This time, my midwife (per her usual practice) prepared it and froze it in small pieces to be used in smoothies. The thought of it grosses me out but Joe has graciously been making me smoothies every day. I haven’t done tons of research but from moms I know that have either encapsulated or used their placenta raw, it’s been beneficial for recovery in many ways. Something to consider.
  7. Herbs – I stocked up on some herbs/supplements that I thought might be helpful including Happy Ducts (for lactation support), Sleepy Nights (for restlessness), Natural Calm (also to help with sleep), Stress Relief (for anxiety) and a good probiotic since I just finished antibiotics from my bout with pneumonia.
  8. Nipple Cream and Nursing Pads – I have a natural nipple cream that I really like and some comfy nursing pads to help with the initial breastfeeding sore nipples and leaky boobs. The things we do for our babies! 🙂
  9. Freezer Pads – This is something I also did with Enzo. I took some overnight pads and sprayed them down with a mixture of witch hazel and lavender oil then stuck them in the freezer. They feel really good during the first days of being sore and help promote healing.
  10. Mom’s Group – With Enzo I really didn’t have any mom friends in Austin that I could reach out to or relate to. When he was around 3 months old I joined a local mom’s group that met once a week for about 5 weeks. It was nice to just be with other women going through the same thing as me and I’m still friends with those ladies which has been amazing. I’m planning on going back to this same group again. I highly recommend new mamas get involved with other mamas somehow. It is extremely beneficial.
  11. Therapist – I’ve mentioned this before as well but I have a therapist lined up to start meeting with in a few weeks. Even if I’m not in the depths of postpartum depression/anxiety, I think it will be a huge help for me to keep everything in check. And if I’m doing well, then I don’t have to see her as frequently. If you are prone to mood disorders, it might be a good idea to at least know who you can reach out to for help.
  12. Prayer – I probably should put this at number one, but prayer is going to be extra important for me during the postpartum period. It can be really easy to get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day and forget to stop and pray, but I know it’s crucial to my mental health as well as my relationship with God. It’s something I want to really focus on and maintain during the early postpartum period and beyond.

Any other mamas have tips for surviving the initial postpartum period?

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Baby Emilia’s Birth Story

Emilia Kay Pattavina entered this world Sun., March 12 at 1:01 a.m., two days before her due date. We were truly blessed with a smooth (though not easy!) labor and delivery and she was safely born at home as we had been planning. Below is her full birth story. It is long and may be too descriptive for some so a fair warning.

Early Friday morning around 2 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I went back to bed I started having mild contractions. They were spaced about 10 minutes apart and were uncomfortable but not too painful. I was so tired I just kept trying to fall back asleep. I got up for a little bit, ate a snack and was able to sleep through some of it but by 6 a.m. they had completely stopped. I went and saw my midwife that morning and she said it was normal to have false labor contractions with a second baby and didn’t necessarily think I’d have the baby that day or even over the weekend. By that night around 5 p.m. I started having the same type of contractions that were uncomfortable but didn’t completely stop me in my tracks. They lasted off and on until about 10 p.m. and some throughout the night.

I woke up again around 2 a.m. Saturday morning with the same thing but I was able to mostly sleep through these ones. I just kept telling baby I was too tired to go into labor right then. I wanted to sleep! Around 7 a.m. that morning I lost my mucous plug but still wasn’t confident that things were for sure happening. Joe and I had planned on going to see a movie Saturday early afternoon and I was really determined to take advantage of our date since we knew it wouldn’t be too much longer before baby arrived. I was still having contractions all morning long but they were so sporadic and still not very intense. We decided to go see the movie (Logan – which was actually really disappointing though it was nice to get out). My contractions pretty much stopped though I had a few during the movie.

We got home that afternoon and they were still happening at the same intensity. It was getting somewhat frustrating because I either wanted it to be the real thing or for the contractions to stop…it was getting exhausting. I was talking with my midwife throughout this time and she had me try walking the neighborhood (Enzo and I got poured on!), take a bath, take a nap and eat to see if they would pick up. They still hadn’t and she said I could either try using the breastpump or wait until the sun went down to see what happened. I opted for waiting.

By 6-7 p.m. my contractions were starting to get more intense and I wasn’t able to really ignore them and felt I had to start focusing/working through them. Enzo was home and I decided it would probably be a good idea for him to go to our neighbors for the night just in case. Good decision on our part! By around 8 p.m. or so the contractions were closer to 5-6 minutes apart and the intensity had increased some. My midwife decided to start heading over though it was still early. From about the time she arrived until around 11 p.m., the intensity of my contractions had increased but they were still not that close together.

The pain (or sensations as my midwife kept calling it) was shooting across my lower abdomen and low back. I was trying lots of different positions (yoga ball, squats, leaning over the bed or on a wall) and Joe was there every time I needed him massaging my back and reminding me to relax as I was having trouble not tensing up during each one. The birth pool was ready around 10 p.m. or so and I hung out in there for a while. Again, intensity still strong but not close together. My midwife had me start tracking them again and at one point they were 8 minutes apart. She decided to check to see how far dilated I was and said the baby was really low which was why my contractions were so intense. She was about to tell me my dilation and I wouldn’t let her. I knew if I found out I was still really far, that it would get in my head. She thought it would be a good idea for me to lay down for a while and try to rest/sleep between contractions to see if that would get things moving. She gave me some herbs to relax and Joe and I laid down for an hour or so. The contractions were getting more frequent and more intense during this time.

She came back to check on me around midnight and tried to remind me to relax and surrender during the contractions and imagine things moving down and opening up. I’m pretty confident the reason I was “stuck” and not progressing as quickly earlier was because I was scared to let go. With Enzo, I had an epidural around 4 cm dilated and I never experienced what full labor felt like. I was scared, and though I wanted to be done, I didn’t want to go through it.

My midwife then suggested trying to sit in the shower on a birthing chair with the water hitting my back. I think that position, being alone and focusing on relaxing through contractions (so counter-intuitive!) truly helped move things along very quickly. The contractions were getting much closer together, lasting longer and were the most intense they’d been. After I got out of the shower (not sure how long I was in there) I was alternating between sitting on the yoga ball and kneeling on the floor over the side of the bed. At this point, my midwife and midwife’s assistant were in the room with Joe and I (previously they had really been leaving us alone except for a few checks here and there). I was really out of it at this point but I knew if they were all in the room, I had to be getting closer.

For the last few contractions I was still kneeling on the floor leaning over the bed and I honestly think it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. They were so intense and just kept going and I couldn’t catch a break. The last full one before I was ready to push caused my lower back to spasm and that was almost worse than the contractions themselves. My back just wouldn’t release and my midwife had Joe squeeze my hips together from behind which was really helpful. All of a sudden I knew I needed to push and I wanted the baby out right then.

I told them it was happening and they quickly covered the floor and got ready to catch baby. I started pushing as hard as I could but my midwife kept telling me to slow down and wait for the contractions. I did not want to listen and just wanted it out. Very quickly I felt what people have described as the “ring of fire” when the baby’s head passes through and that’s basically what it felt like.  My water never broke during labor and my midwife broke it while I was pushing. Within 5-6 minutes Emilia was out and laying on a pillow in front of me (I’m still on my knees on the floor at this point). It is crazy to me that you can go from screaming in terrible pain to feeling a complete release and satisfaction when it’s finally over. As soon as she was out the pain was gone. They were going to try and get me up onto the bed with her still attached but the cord was pretty short. As we were moving, the placenta just came out on it’s own and I didn’t have to deliver it separately.

I managed to get up on the bed with Emilia on my chest but I ended up having more cramping/pain that I couldn’t relax through. Joe took her for a bit so I could sit in the bath to try and calm everything down. I was really sore and felt a lot of throbbing/cramps that took a while to fully subside. I also ended up needing about 7 stitches from tearing which was my least favorite part. Once the stitches were done I could finally rest with Emilia and try to latch her on for the first time. They did her newborn exam and cleaned her up all at the foot of the bed. The midwife and assistant cleaned up everything, prepared my placenta and went over postpartum instructions for me and baby. They were gone around 4 a.m. and it was just us. I was still on an adrenaline high and in shock and I didn’t fall asleep until 6:30 a.m. or so.

I’m so incredibly happy with how everything went. I’ve been praying about the birth for a long time and God fully came through for us. Early on in my labor I went to the Bible app on my phone for some verse or inspiration that might help me and the verse of the day was Psalm 16:8 – “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” I kept picturing Jesus literally at my right hand and supporting me. With that verse, Joe’s support and prayers, prayers from family and friends and my midwife, I felt lifted up and supported throughout. Joe also paused to pray with me periodically throughout which was amazing. Though it took me a little while to get over my mental block of letting labor fully happen, I feel that everything went so smoothly.

I think I’m still on a high and emotionally am feeling really good though I know with sleep deprivation and changing hormones, that can change very soon. Enzo is also with Joe’s sister for the week so we’re able to take this time to really get to know our little one and relax. I feel pretty confident that if I had given birth in the hospital I would have gotten an epidural. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with it. I had one with Enzo and it helped me relax and get my labor to progress. But I was hoping for a different experience this time. In the hospital, knowing I had an option of taking the pain away, I probably would have done it. But being at home gave me no option in that moment and I was able to work through it.

I’m so thankful to everyone who has prayed and lifted us up during this pregnancy and specifically for labor and delivery. Also, very thankful for those who I know will continue to support us during the postpartum period as we adjust to being a family of four. Welcome to the world our little rainbow! 🙂

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Biweekly Update: 38 Weeks

My official due date is only 12 days away! I’ve been pretty sick the past week and a half so I really haven’t been able to focus much on baby, solely on resting and trying to get better. It started like a normal cold (thanks Enzo or Joe!) and seemed to get better but then got extremely worse about a week into it. I had chills, body aches, high fever and lots of congestion/coughing. I went to the doctor and they tested me for the flu which was negative and just said I needed to treat the symptoms.

Two days later, I was coughing so much in the middles of the night that I really didn’t sleep and ended up straining my shoulder. I honestly thought I dislocated it because it hurt so bad and I had Joe take me to the ER to get it checked out. My shoulder ended up just being strained and thankfully feels much better now. But through a chest x-ray they found pneumonia in my left lung. I’m on antibiotics and everything with baby and my blood work all checked out fine. I’m feeling a little better but still having some intense coughing fits and lots of congestion. Praying these antibiotics work to get me over this. I’m not thrilled about taking antibiotics right before giving birth but I think it’s the best option to help me get over this infection. My body just couldn’t fight it on it’s own.

How far along: 38 weeks

Size of baby: Pineapple

Gender: Still holding out for a girl.

Movement: Those big full body movements are super uncomfortable. I can’t believe there’s a 7 lb living being in there!

Sleep: Depends on the night but pretty well despite being sick and up coughing. Been extra tired the last week or so.

Workouts: Non-existent for the past two weeks besides one yoga class. My pelvic pain and cramping have finally subsided but this virus I have has knocked me down completely.

Symptoms: Pregnancy-wise I actually feel fine besides just being tired. Hoping baby decides to wait to make his/her debut until I’m healed!

Cravings/aversions: Being sick my appetite has not been great but I’ve been trying to force myself to eat as much as I can handle because I know baby needs it. I just haven’t wanted to cook at all and am tired of meal-planning. I’ve been tempted to start eating our freezer meals but holding out because I know how badly we’ll need them once baby arrives!

Missing anything: being active. I’m not good at just sitting/relaxing for long periods of time and I’ve been doing a lot of that these last two weeks.

Best part of the week: In preparation for the possibilities of dealing with postpartum depression again, I have a therapist lined up to have on hand if/when I need her. We had an initial meeting to just go over things and I thought I really wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Boy was I wrong! It was great to get some tools that will help when things start getting hard, regardless if I actually get PPD or not. Not sure if it’s strange for a therapy appointment to be the best part of the week but it was just so helpful. Otherwise just trying to enjoy our time as a family now despite being so sick.

Can’t wait for: finding out if we’re having a boy or girl and officially deciding on a name once we see that sweet baby! Getting to finally see him/her and start that next chapter of our lives.

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Biweekly Update: 36 Weeks

Holy moly…four weeks until due date! I’ve been trying to finalize all last minute prep items as much as possible (getting remaining baby items, freezer meals, postpartum prep) and trying not to freak out too much about how soon baby will be here. I think we are just about done prepping freezer meals which hopefully will be a huge lifesaver once baby is here and we aren’t getting meals delivered from friends anymore. Below is a list I’ve been working from. I haven’t made all this but we’ve got a big chunk done. Thankfully we have a large deep freezer to store all this stuff! Baby updates below.

Meal Recipe
Quinoa fried rice http://domesticsuperhero.com/2013/06/10/quinoa-fried-rice/
Crock-pot pork stuffed peppers http://www.marksdailyapple.com/crock-pot-pork-stuffed-peppers/#axzz30OmiNbQL
Crockpot fajita chicken http://deliciouslyorganic.net/crock-pot-chicken-fajitas-grain-free-paleo/
Sloppy joes http://simplysugarandglutenfree.com/sloppy-joes/
Paleo egg cups (use ham) http://onceamonthmeals.com/simple-paleo-egg-cups
Sausage and veggie skillet http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/04/07/quick-healthy-meal-in-under-30-sausage-veggies-grain-free/
Raspberry Muffins http://www.primalpalate.com/paleo-recipe/raspberry-muffins/
Taco Pasta http://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/08/beef-taco-pasta/
Feta spinach egg bake https://www.budgetbytes.com/2015/08/roasted-red-pepper-and-feta-frittata/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BudgetBytes+%28Budget+Bytes%29
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake http://paleomg.com/almost-5-ingredient-pizza-spaghetti-pie/
Almond joy bars http://detoxinista.com/2014/08/no-bake-almond-joy-bars-vegan-paleo/
Beef stew https://awakeningwomeneverywhere.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/paleo-beef-stew/
Baked mustard lime chicken https://elanaspantry.com/baked-mustard-lime-chicken/
Sweet potato soup http://paleomg.com/sweet-potato-basil-soup/
Lactation energy bites http://detoxinista.com/2016/08/date-oat-lactation-energy-bites-vegan/
Cooked rice/quinoa
Cooked black beans
Sausage apple egg cups https://onceamonthmeals.com/recipes/gluten-free-dairy-free-apple-sausage-quiche/
Blueberry baked oatmeal http://www.theroastedroot.net/blueberry-baked-oatmeal-dairy-free/
Broccoli rice cups https://onceamonthmeals.com/recipes/cheesy-broccoli-rice-casserole-cups/
Cooked lentils
Crockpot breakfast casserole http://www.cleverlysimple.com/crockpot-breakfast-casserole-recipe/
Chicken noodle soup http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/10/05/recipe-homemade-chicken-noodle-soup/

How far along: 36 weeks

Size of baby: Head of romaine lettuce

Gender: Everyone thinks it’s a girl…only time will tell!

Movement: Some days baby is super quiet, other days crazy active. Still getting hiccups periodically too. Those rib kicks are killer!

Sleep: Man how I’m going to miss my sleep once baby comes. 🙂

Workouts: I was having quite a bit of pelvic ligament pain and laid off a lot on working out including walks and yoga. I just started walking a bit more and am planning on going back to yoga this weekend. I don’t want to lose all my strength/endurance before labor but I’m also trying to be aware of my body and rest as much as needed.

Symptoms: Just normal tiredness/fatigue as I reach the end. It’s been really difficult to lift/carry Enzo and I’ve been trying not to as much as I can. I was also having some cramping this week. The midwife gave me some herbs to help and so far things have been better. I’m not quite ready for baby yet!

Cravings/aversions: For the most part food has been sounding really good though I still have queasy moments periodically. I’m really excited to make these molten lava cakes this weekend! Also making a huge batch of black beans and rice loaded w/guacamole which sounds super comforting right now too.

Missing anything: It will be nice to get back to my non-pregnant self though I know I’ll have mixed feelings and miss being pregnant once baby is here.

Best part of the week: Had an amazing baby shower with friends in Austin which was a huge blessing. Also got to see Dashboard Confessional in concert with Joe and had another night out at a fancy hotel downtown for Joe’s work party. Squeezing in those last date nights while we have the chance.

Can’t wait for: Some more relaxing evenings. My days are pretty busy the next couple of weeks but our nights are going to be really chill which I’m looking forward to.

 

 

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